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Breastfeeding Success!! ~ Ann's Story
by Ann Anderson
My daughter was born almost four years ago, and she'll be a big sister soon, but I feel like I need to tell the story of my experiences breastfeeding her. I guess you could say I expected all sorts of problems, did everything you're not supposed to do, and still had success.
My husband is a dairy farmer and I was raised on a dairy farm. I started out with no firm plan about how long I was going to nurse, but I knew from raising calves that colostrum was very important to newborns. I knew there were other benefits to breastfeeding, but I work pretty far from my daycare provider, so I figured I'd nurse the baby just until I had to start back to work.
My husband was very supportive of my breastfeeding, but I did have to endure all sorts of jokes related to the farm. He'd joke about selling me if I wasn't a good milker, or tease me about eating more to get my milk production up to a respectable level.
My daughter was born about 10 days past my due date, weighing 9 lbs. 6 oz., and screaming for meat and potatoes. She latched on right away, and it seems like she didn't let go for a week. I didn't really have any pain when my milk came in, and my nipples weren't really chapped, more like a little bruised, but just for a day or so. Things were going so well, that I started making plans for continuing to nurse after I went back to my job. I only work part-time, so I figured I would only need enough for a couple of feedings. I started introducing my daughter to a bottle at three weeks. She didn't seem to like the first nipple we tried, and only when I went to wash it did I realize that there was no hole in it. She never was fussy about the type of nipple, and changed easily between several types and breastfeeding, as long as there was milk to be had. I tried three different kinds of breastpumps, but none of them worked very well. My husband suggested just expressing my milk by hand, and that seemed to work the best. After I got the hang of it, it worked really well. For me it was quick, there was no equipment to wash, and it was free. I don't know why you don't hear about that more. I also didn't express milk at work, I just worked it in between feedings and gradually increased the amount I was expressing.
Both my sister-in-law and my best friend had trouble nursing. They had trouble with nipple confusion, sore nipples, inverted nipples, low supply, mastitis, just about all the things you hear about. For awhile I felt abnormal because things came so easily. I have to give some of the credit to my daughter, because I let her take the lead from the start. When I relaxed about things and just fed her when she was hungry, things went well.
My hospital had a really pesky lactation consultant who seemed really worried about all the details. She made me so paranoid that something would go wrong. My doctor was a lot more reassuring, and said that as long as my daughter was growing and healthy that there was no right or wrong way to do things. When I had to increase my work hours, I started supplementing with formula at day care. The lactation consultant warned me that unless I pumped or expressed at work, my supply would dry up and I would have to stop nursing. She said my daughter might refuse the formula or decide to stop nursing. I didn't have much choice, but as it turned out, she was wrong. My supply stayed high, and my daughter didn't care what was offered as long as there was plenty to eat. She continued to grow at a phenomenal rate and nursed until she was a little over a year old.
I don't mean to say that the advice you hear about breastfeeding is all wrong, but I think too many women are made to feel guilty if they don't do everything "by the book." I may not have done everything the way the lactation consultant wanted me to, but to this day my daughter drinks more milk than anything. Of course my husband would like to say it's because she's a dairy farmer's daughter, but I have to say it's because milk was her first "comfort food" and still goes best with the chocolate chip cookies.